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Tinder Swipes Right on Its New CEO: Former eBay Exec Chris Payne

Tinder has been looking to replace current CEO and co-founder Sean Rad since October.

Peter DaSilva

Popular mobile dating app Tinder has hired high-profile tech exec Chris Payne as its new CEO, finally replacing current CEO and co-founder Sean Rad, according to multiple sources.

The company started to look for a new CEO in October, but Rad has stayed on as CEO during the search for his replacement. The plan at the time was for Rad to remain on Tinder’s board and work at the company.

That will continue, said sources. With Payne as CEO, Rad will become president and be in charge of product and marketing and Payne run all else. For the time being, Payne will apparently commute from the San Francisco Bay area to Tinder’s offices in the Los Angeles area.

Payne most recently was one of eBay’s top leaders, running the company’s core shopping marketplace business in North America until he left late last year.

Sources said he had been in the running to become CEO of eBay’s spinoff of its payments unit, PayPal. Payne had reported to eBay Marketplaces President Devin Wenig, who will become CEO of eBay itself.

When he left, eBay said that Payne had “decided to leave eBay to pursue a new business venture.” That would be Tinder, where he is already at work, said sources.

Payne joined eBay in 2009 after a software startup called Positronic that he founded was acquired by the company. Before that, he worked for 13 years at Microsoft, including heading its search unit, which was then called Windows Search Live. He also was at Amazon for three years.

The new CEO hire comes at an important time for the startup, which IAC has a majority stake in and controls. Besides IAC, last fall in an unusual investment configuration, Silicon Valley venture firm Benchmark took an equity stake in Tinder in exchange for one of its partners, Matt Cohler, joining the board to add his experience.

Tinder, which has continued to see huge growth, especially among young people, released its first major revenue product, Tinder Plus, in major markets such as the U.S. and the U.K. last month.

The product’s pricing model, which charges more for older users, was criticized heavily when it was first unveiled, and it’s still too soon to tell how users like the new model, which charges for things like looking for matches outside your geographic area.

Tinder is also working on building out its first ad product, and named Brian Norgard its first VP of advertising earlier this year.

It’s still unclear what the ad product will look like, but Tinder has lots of information on its users, like age, gender and location, so targeted ads built into the swiping experience would make a lot of sense. IAC’s Greg Blatt, chairman of the company’s Match Group, said on the most recent earnings call that Tinder would have some ad revenue “this year.”

Blatt, as well as Rad and Match Group CEO Sam Yagan, have been key to the search for a new leader for Tinder, especially after Rad had come under fire over controversy related to another top exec. Tinder has talked to a range of execs for the job, sources said, including well-known entrepreneur David Sacks, the founder of Yammer, which was sold to Microsoft for $1.2 billion in 2012.

Re/code reached out to various people at Tinder and IAC, as well as Cohler and Payne, who have not commented as yet.

Update: Payne confirmed his hiring in a tweet just now:

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